On Sunday – 8 October, a little bit different event was held under the domes of the Largo in Sofia – the Ability Fest. At one place it gathered people who live in Sofia and those who are guests of the city, people with and without disabilities, small and grown up adventurers, celebrities and heroes in their own life-stories, people with an opinion on the topic for equality before the law for all and others who has not been involved in it yet. Thus, the fest joined the different, challenged them to have fun together and at the same time - to learn something new for the colorful world that we all share. A world full of human destinies, created by the skills and abilities of us all, and existing because of our willingness to support each other in our path forward.
Although it may seem immodest, all of us who were involved in the realization of the festival may pronounce the challenge called Ability Fest Sofia 2017 for successfully passed. And we did itbecause of the feedback we received, because of the sincere smiles and the excitement in the children’s eyes, because of the shared feelings and even because of the tears from the strong emotions, because of the true curiosity and the thirst to co-experience, all shared by the participants in the festival.
„Without hearing or without sight – the glove was thrown and the challenge accepted! It was not easy! But we tried and now the feeling about the world is a little bit more different...A little bit MORE... Thank you!“ - Raya Gencheva, a comment in Facebook.
The presence of the festival in the media is also a proof for its success. We believe that it was not only the hunt for a good news material, but also the cause and the idea behind the event attracted journalists from various media in the Sunday.
Maria Cherneva form the Bulgarian National Television while taking part in one of the challenges “Step by Step” during the Ability Fest Sofia 2017
The wide media coverage is in fact the second success of the festival. The first one was the joy and the compassion felt by the participants in the challenges and the workshops of the Ability Fest Sofia that were provoked by a world full of more understanding and acceptance of the differences between us.
Kremena from Parallel World Association and her son Lacho talking before the camera of BTV
The photos, publications and reportages transferred those emotions beyond the venue of the festival and put in focus the abilities and the skills of people with disabilities, not their difficulties and rising the question on the responsibility of each of us to accept the difference in a worthy way.
Hopes and expectations
We invested all in the Ability Fest Sofia hoping that it will generate enough quantity of civic energy in order to provoke a qualitative change in the recognition of the human rights of people with disabilities through abolishing the outdated system of guardianship and introducing new forms of supported decision making. The hope we keep is that the echo from the event will reach out to the decision-makers and will make them act accordingly.
The expectation that the Ability Fest Sofia will become a tradition is huge – on behalf of the visitors and participants, but also on behalf of the organizations who contributed for the festival to happen.
„Wishing this festival to be enlisted in the celebration calendar on national level!“ – Maria Chankova, Association “Family Center – Maria”, facilitators of the Atelier Jewelry and Souvenirs during the Ability Fest Sofia 2017.
There is also hope for the Ability Fest to become a festival that travels around the whole country – Ability Fest Plovdiv, Ability Fest Varna and so on. Because the experiences that the festival creates build up and change attitudes – attitudes towards others and towards your own sense of responsibility to see beyond the differences and to be the support that others need in order to call the life that we share a better and more meaningful experience.
It depends on us for the festival to become annual – it depends on how many people will stand behind the idea and will recognize it so that the festival will happen again. It depends on us and also on how much we need such events in order to understand the human diversity and on what it teaches us, in order to (re)consider our everyday behavior and attitude towards people with disabilities and the things they need – support, understanding and acceptance. A smile, a look to an equal and readiness to provide support for the things that they want and dream about, is our contribution so that a dignifying life for our society is possible. Because only together we can do everything!
With gratitude to all who took part in the Ability Fest Sofia 2017!